It wasn’t supposed to go this way. Rangers were facing an Aberdeen side they’ve been told numerous times is better than them. They were without players like Lee Wallace, Graham Dorrans and Alfredo Morelos. The young centre half was moved into midfield, the much-maligned wide player played up front. There was a 37 year old captain who has struggled for form, and a Mexican who supposedly enjoys one too many pints of Stella every day in vital attacking areas. They’d just lost two games in a row, and didn’t have a full-time manager yet almost 5 weeks after the sacking of Caixinha. The home form had been horrible, and the confidence was clearly lacking.

Rangers were supposed to lose.

But this is when Rangers teams of old have stepped up and shown their worth. Last night, in a 3-0 win over Aberdeen, the current squad showed the sort of ability and desire that’s been in question all season.

The Rangers starting line-up saw a change to the shape, with width sacrificed to allow Carlos Pena to play behind Miller and Windass. Aberdeen went for a more solid team than usual, moving Shinnie out to the left and dropping Mackay-Steven to the bench. That allowed them to play O’Connor in midfield and keep Tansey in the side. The approach was clear – they were looking to bully Rangers in midfield.

Despite some real fears of a defeat, and everything else that’s been going on, the Ibrox crowd was in fine form as the game kicked off. In under a minute, Rangers missed a great chance to go ahead. Smart play on the right (a theme of the night) led to Tavernier getting space to cross the ball low. Windass looked certain to turn the ball in, but didn’t quite connect and the ball ran across the box. It was a real show of intent, and a big hint at what was to come.

On the 6th minute, Rangers took the lead. Yet again, space was found on the right, and Ryan Jack put in a cross which was only cleared to the edge of the box. Holt was there to take a touch, and was bundled to the ground by a very clumsy challenge. The penalty was given straight away, and James Tavernier came across to take it. He placed the ball down the middle with composure to put Rangers ahead, a lead that had already felt deserved.

Not long afterwards, Carlos Pena was able to find space around 30 yards out. He hit a curling effort with his right foot that Joe Lewis stretched to turn over the bar. Pena was certainly looking in the mood.

Aberdeen were getting some joy at set pieces, and had a definite height advantage over Rangers. A corner was nodded just over the bar with Foderingham unable to come and claim the ball.

Just minutes later, Josh Windass thought he had made it 2-0 after slotting home a brilliant through ball by McCrorie. Sadly, the offside flag ruled it out, and replays showed the decision was correct. Only 2 minutes after that, though, Rangers got their second.

As before, the threat came from the right, as Miller, Pena and Holt combined to keep the ball well. It was played back to Tavernier, who played a lovely ball in behind for Holt to run on to. He took a touch and cut the ball across, and Pena was there to score with a controlled finish. The celebrations of the players showed just how much the second goal meant to them.

For the first half hour, Rangers were better than they had been all season. Aberdeen are a good side, though, and were bound to have some chances. A free kick from the right by Christie dropped in the box, and Tavernier was on hand to clear from the goalline. The full back was then almost put through to score yet again, as Pena played a lovely cushioned pass into his path. Joe Lewis was able to get out and block that in time.

Aberdeen made a change in the first half, with Gary Mackay-Steven coming on for Greg Tansey. The winger was involved instantly, played through outside of Tavernier. As the Rangers player chased back, there was a very slight contact that put Mackay-Steven off his stride, and his shot was skewed. He hit the deck trying to claim a penalty, and was booked for his protests.

In the second half, Aberdeen started with a bit more purpose. However, they never really tested Foderingham, with shots from distance being poor and set pieces being dealt with. Rangers were growing in confidence, and playing better football overall. Danny Wilson was unlucky with a volley from a Windass corner only seven minutes into the half.

The third goal came somewhat against the run of play. Rangers were in controlled possession but didn’t look threatening. A loose pass from Holt out to Tavernier could have led to a counter attack, but the full back wanted the ball more and won it with a strong tackle. He continued to get forward as the ball was worked out wide right for Windass. His low cross was volleyed home by Tavernier, and the game was over as a contest. Replays showed that Tavernier may have been deemed offside, as part of his body was beyond the last defender as the ball was played. It was a difficult call for the linesman to make.

After that, the game became something of a procession. Rangers would keep decent possession and look to hit Aberdeen on the break. For all their ability, Aberdeen looked like they knew there was no way back and never really threatened. Their night became even worse when Ryan Christie was given a second yellow card for a blatant foul on Ross McCrorie.

This game was a highly enjoyable one for Rangers and their support. It should not be taken lightly in any way – this was not the strongest team Rangers have, but the players performed to their best to win a tough match with aplomb.


Foderingham, Tavernier, Wilson, Alves, John; McCrorie, Jack, Holt, Pena (Candeias 68’), Windass (Hardie 87’), Miller (Herrera 83’)

Subs not used: Alnwick, Bates, Hodson, Kranjcar.

Goals: Tavernier 7’ 70’ Pena 27’

Yellows: McCrorie 38’ Holt 57’ Alves 65’


Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, O’Connor, McLean, Arnason (Stewart 78’), Tansey (Mackay-Steven 43’ (Rooney 83’), McKenna, Christie, May.

Subs not used: Reynolds, Maynard, Ball, Rogers.

Yellows: O’Connor 18’ Shinnie 33’ Mackay-Steven 44’ Christie 58’

Reds: Christie 84’